I set out early this morning to join John Hadley at the Glen Cairn Crake
Pit [a few hundred stone throws from Bill Jolly?s hangout].
The crake pit is a pair of bore fed dams that are joined at the "waist"
and skirted by various reed types. John was strolling along the road
[through the cool of the post-dawn air] when I rolled up. Our first
observation was that the waterfowl were restless ? probably due to the
attention of a passing swamp harrier.
John showed me the corner of the dam where he often saw the crakes ?
there was a nice open lead through the reeds. We lurked and presently
there was movement in the reeds. Not a crake, but a solid [and solidly
streaked] wren-like bird. It hopped about like an oversized WB
scrubwren, but was shorter [and had a much shorter tail] than a tawny
grassbird. John confirmed my suspicion that it was a little grassbird
[one of many living around the dams].
A pair of intermediate egrets were playing follow the leader overhead,
the usual rafts of coots, moorhens, grebes, LB & LP cormorants, PB Ducks
and hardheads were out in force on the water, and the swamphens were
patrolling the shores. There was even a PE duck dozing in amongst the
hardheads, and a coucal hooting out of season in the background.
There was more movement in the reed bed ? not the spotted crake I was
yet to tick, but a pair of spotless crakes moving furtively about ? and
sometimes dashing across the open patch.
John had to decamp, so I pulled out a seat and settled down to watch the
reeds. A flock of CB mannikins [including a large number of juveniles]
were a cheeping distraction, a pair of royal spoonbills were noisily
probing the reed bed, a magpie wandered over, and the reedwarblers and
cistacolas keep the reeds swaying.
Finally, there was movement on the reed floor as another swamp dweller
emerged. Once again, it wasn?t the crake I was looking for, but a good
old BB rail, which wandered past flicking its tail.
I presently felt like stretching my legs, and so went for a stroll along
the dam wall. There was a small bird poking about and I had finally
found a crake with spots. Unlike its spotless cousins, it didn?t mind
my close attention [3-5 metres] and kept on with its stint-like [sewing
machine] feeding behaviour.
My atlas list for the crake pit was rounded off by a pair of kestrels, a
BS kite, a W kite and a flock of fairy martins which happened to be
passing through. While I didn?t see any bitterns, I felt the site was
worth the one hour drive out from Brisbane.
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